Twelve-year-old actress Celina Smith will play the plucky young orphan in Annie Live.

Celina Smith will be living the hard-knock life for the rest of the year. In a good way, though!

After a nationwide search, the 12-year-old actress has been cast as the lead in Annie Live, NBC's upcoming production of the beloved musical. Smith will play the plucky young orphan who is adopted by the billionaire Daddy Warbucks, and performs such iconic tunes as "Tomorrow," "Maybe," and, of course, "It's the Hard Knock Life."

She joins a cast that includes Harry Connick Jr. as Warbucks, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Tituss Burgess as Rooster, and Nicole Scherzinger as Grace.

Celina Smith has been cast as the titular orphan in 'Annie Live'
| Credit: Kahran Bethencourt/CreativeSoul Photography

Smith's casting was announced on The Today Show Tuesday morning, with the young actress sharing her reaction to the news. "It's just so amazing being able to perform with such an iconic cast, and I'm just so excited for this journey to start," she said.

Smith's previous credits include Tyler Perry's Nickelodeon series Young Dylan and a stint as Young Nala in the national touring company of The Lion King. She'll now take on a role previously played by such actresses as Sarah Jessica Parker, Lilla Crawford, and Sadie Sink, all of whom played Annie on Broadway. (Andrea McArdle originated the role on Broadway, while Aileen Quinn and Quvenzhané Wallis played Annie in the 1982 and 2014 film adaptations, respectively.)

"It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me and I can't wait to start this journey," Smith said in a statement.

Annie Live rehearsals will begin in New York around October, with the musical set to premiere Dec. 2 on NBC.

Related content:

Annie Live!

A live TV musical take on the story of little orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks.

  • TV Show

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